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Voice Search SEO: A Beginner’s Guide

voice search seo beginners guide

Voice search allows you to perform a search on the internet by verbally stating a specific question to your smartphone or voice enabled devices.

It is a feature that more and more businesses are optimizing their websites to rank for in search engines.

Statistics gathered by Backlinko show:

  • 40% of adults use voice search on a daily basis.
  • 52% of people use voice search while driving.
  • 65% of consumers between 25-49 years old talk to their voice-enabled devices daily.

Backlinko statistics voice search

According to Statista, the main reason people prefer to use voice search is that it’s quicker than typing on a website.

Main Reasons for global mobile Users to Access Voice Search Statistics

Before listing strategies on how to optimize your website SEO-wise for voice search, let’s look at which are the most important devices and virtual assistants. This will help you have a better understanding of how those devices work and what are the additional features they have.

Top 5 Voice Search Devices

1. Amazon Alexa and Echo

Alexa is a virtual assistant by Amazon. It works by you asking it questions or giving it commands. Usually, the Alexa devices can be activated with wake-words like “Alexa” or “Amazon”, or “Alexa wake”. The statistics show Amazon Echo gets 64% of queries answered correctly.

Alexa is capable of playing radio, stream music, set timers and alarms, get tailored news, ask questions, control smart devices at home, make calls, play games, etc, play audiobooks, track real-time information, etc. You can also extend Alexa’s functions by installing “skills”.

The additional apps you can install are called “skills”. There is a collection of different skills you can install. Some of them are:

  • Spotify
  • Amazon Storytime suitable for kids
  • Ambient Sounds for chilling out or for falling asleep
  • Todoist an app used to organize your to-do list
  • Xbox for games
  • Allrecipes for people who love cooking

2. Google Home and Google Assistant

Google Home is the smart speaker by Google that uses artificial intelligence to answer specific questions. It’s actually the winner by answering 81% of the queries correctly compared to the other virtual assistants.

The device enables users to speak voice commands and to interact with services through Google Assistant. Part of the Google Home family is Google Home, Nest Mini, Home Max, Nest Hub and the Nest Hub Max.

Google Home app helps you to control all of its devices and is similar to the Amazon Alexa device.

Some of the main Google Home skills are:

  • WhatsApp – you can dictate your message instead of writing it
  • Weather information
  • Google Podcasts
  • Philips Hue for turning on and off the lights
  • Spell Check
  • I’m Home Routine which enables “I am home” mode by turning on the lights, playing music or anything else you program it to do.

3. Siri and Apple

Siri is a personal assistant by Apple. Similar to the previous devices it has a wide range of options. Siri can read the news, inform you about sports, make calls, send messages, helping with organization, give answers to questions, etc.

Usually, you can use the command “Hey Siri” to activate it. There is the HomePod which is a device for smart homes, similar to Alexa and Google Home.

Some of the skills you can enable are:

  • Reading appointments or schedule
  • Creating list and reminders
  • Sending text messages and make phone calls
  • Giving directions
  • Setting timers, reminders and alarms
  • Turning lights on and off
  • Asking questions
  • Or having fun asking Siri to tell you a joke

4. Bixby and Samsung

Bixby is a virtual assistant built by Samsung. Like the other assistants, you can use it to get information about the weather, news, or anything you need to know at a particular moment.

Some of the Bixby skills are:

  • Connect with your TV
  • Control home devices
  • WhatsApp
  • Sync with Facebook and Messenger, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter
  • CNN
  • Expedia
  • Google Play Store and Google Play music
  • Uber
  • Pandora

5. Microsoft Cortana

Cortana is Microsoft’s virtual assistant that can help with requests, tasks, reminders and more. By enabling “Hey, Cortana” you can do searches, book meetings, set up reminders, or create your to-do lists.

One of its cool features is for business meetings. It can pull helpful information from LinkedIn such as professional backgrounds and company details so you can have context for your meeting.

Some of the main skills are:

  • Reminders
  • Track teams, flights, interests
  • Send emails and messages
  • Manage calendar
  • Play music, radio, podcasts
  • Find info about everything you ask – places, restaurants, facts

Understanding of Voice Search – How Does It Work?

how does the voice search work

In order to optimize your website for voice search, you need to understand how it works. When you search for something verbally the voice assistant, based on artificial intelligence, recognizes your voice and turns your words into code.

The voice assistant analyzes the speech and once processed the text is sent to search engines to find the results of your question. In the end, the information is translated and given back to you.

Artificial intelligence controls voice search engines and it becomes smarter every time a person uses it. The process takes about 1-2 seconds with the help of artificial intelligence technology and with the development of natural language processing (NLP).

Thanks to NLP search engines can better recognize natural speech and thus can optimize further the results for any specific search query.

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What Do You Need to Know About the Voice Search?

The most important thing you need to know about voice searches is that they are conversational. This means voice searches prefer questions and simple answers.

Voice search is natural and consists of longer sentences. Web search, on the other hand, is very short and basic.

Let’s say you want to order a pizza. With a search engine, you might normally type “Pizza delivery” or “Pizza delivery in New York”, but with a voice query you’d say “Where’s the closest pizza restaurant?” or “Find a pizza restaurant near me”.

Keep in mind that for both queries, you might have different results. This is important when you need to optimize your website for voice search.

Did you know 22% of voice search queries look for location-based content? This is essential if you run a restaurant, local shop, bakery, etc. If your business is somehow location-related, optimizing your content for short and quick answers could bring in more customers.

voice search queries local service

How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search?

As stated before the voice search should be a significant part of your marketing plan, especially if your business is local. People often search while driving, on the go, or simply when they are not able to type, like coming home after shopping with their hands full.

Keep in mind that location-based search is among the most common ones, but 52% of voice-activated speaker owners also want to get information about promotions and deals.

If you really want to stand out from the crowd and beat your competitors you should consider voice search optimization when developing your marketing plan.

Let’s look at the four basic strategies you can use for optimizing your business for voice search in a way that can respond accordingly to people’s questions.

1. Write Your Content in a Conversational Tone

One of the most important ways to optimize your voice search is using natural language and conversational tone. Since users tend to think of the virtual assistants as a friend who they speak with, the tone is conversational.

This means the content on your website should be written this way so it can answer customer’s questions. Try to figure out user intent and focus on providing helpful answers.

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Focus on long-tail phrases and keywords since this is the way that customers speak to their digital assistants.

Voice search queries are longer than the traditional ones and ultra-specific. “How to cook a chocolate cake” is definitely a question that you would ask your digital assistant. Check the example below.

conversational tone copy

When you type it on your browser most probably you will search by “Chocolate cake recipe”.

Chocolate cake recipe search results

Some of the results match, but not all of them. And this is normal since everyone searches in a different way. You ask a question to your voice assistant, while in the browser you type keywords without any conversational tone in your search.

2. Optimize Your Featured Snippets and Schema Markup

The featured snippets appear at the top of the SERPs. When you type a query Google extracts the most relevant content and places in a box.

In order to rank higher in Google, you need to provide quality data that Google can present in a featured snippet. You can do this by creating useful content that answers directly to specific questions.

This is what you can do:

  • Create content that answers questions like the FAQ page.
  • Update your old content often.
  • Mark your questions with H1 and H2 tags.
  • Answer questions on your Google My Business section dedicated to Questions and Answers.
  • Create compelling questions about your products and services.

Some other things you can do to improve your SEO voice search are:

  • Submit XML sitemaps to Google Search Console
  • Optimize your meta descriptions so it is readable by search engines
  • Improve your website structure

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3. Improve Your Local SEO

Research by BrightLocal about voice search shared the following data:

  • 58% of consumers have used voice search to find information on a local business in the last 12 months.
  • 46% of voice users look for local businesses on a daily basis.
  • When doing a voice search, consumers most frequently want to – make reservations, hear prices, and to find out which products businesses have.
  • 76% of users perform local voice searches at least weekly—with 53% searching using their devices every day.

research about local voice search

To rank for local-search you need to have updated the information on your Google My Business page to include the following data:

  • Brand name
  • Correct address
  • Photos
  • Contact details
  • Working hours
  • Reviews

In terms of location-specific content you can include:

  • Use local phrases that people might use.
  • Add a “Near me” description to your title tags and meta description.
  • Add notable features around your location.
  • Use words and phrases related to your location or neighborhood.

If you have reviews enabled on Facebook, Google can include them as well.

4. Increase Your Website Speed and Optimize for Mobile

Your website’s speed influences the position you rank in the voice search results. This is a pretty important aspect because those searches happen on the go. Your customers will expect fast results, as they are busy and they need the information right away. Imagine if they are driving a car searching for your shop.

That is why your website page’s speed is crucial. This goes hand in hand with optimizing for mobile. Having a fast website and optimized for mobile is obligatory but when talking about voice searches this is even more important.

The reason that is because most of the voice search queries happen on a phone device as the customers are on the go.

You can check your website speed on PageSpeed Insights, which will provide you with advice on how to make your mobile site faster.

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Wrapping up

We’ve covered four simple strategies you can try when optimizing your website for voice search SEO. Keep in mind that voice search requires a somewhat different approach to the way “traditional” SEO is done.

The key takeaway is to remember that people see their digital assistants as if they were humans, and therefore search differently when searching verbally. And that means conversational long-tail keywords are necessary when answering your customers’ queries.

Try optimizing your business for voice search and track the results.

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